Match Requirements: An Important Aspect of Evaluating Funders

Evaluating funding opportunities can seem daunting, even for experienced grant-writers. Federal grant guidelines often include 75 or more pages of information and instructions! Not every funding opportunity will be a good fit for your organization or your project. By breaking down the evaluation process into stages, you can avoid spending too much time assessing programs that are an obvious mismatch to your water infrastructure project.

The first step is to eliminate programs for which you don’t meet the basic eligibility requirements. The second step – before you really dig into the guidance to assess competitiveness – is to do a more thorough assessment of the nexus between your project and funding program.

One of the most important aspects to focus on is a grant’s matching requirements. Funding agencies almost always expect your organization to bear some of the financial responsibility for the proposed project. This responsibility is known as the match and is usually expressed as a percentage of the request amount. It’s not always necessary to meet match requirements with cash, depending on the funding agency. Some will allow staff time, in-direct costs and volunteer contributions as “in-kind match”. If you can’t meet the required match percentage, consider whether it’s reasonable to lower your request amount so that the match is feasible.

Evaluating a funding opportunity can seem overwhelming. However, by focusing on a few important considerations like match requirements, you will be able to better determine if a funding opportunity is worth pursuing.

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Types of Project Stakeholders and How to Engage With Them

An important piece of the puzzle to securing support from your community is identifying project stakeholders and determining the appropriate level of involvement. Stakeholders will vary in their power to influence a project, either positively or negatively. Similarly, stakeholders will vary in their interest in the project, from indifferent to committed. Stakeholders will need to be involved differently, based on their relative power and interest.

A simple way to determine a stakeholder’s power and interest is to categorize them within a Power/Interest Grid. Low Power/Low Interest are stakeholders that are likely only indirectly affected by a project. Information needs to be available to them, but active involvement isn’t necessary. Low Power/High Interest are stakeholders who may care deeply about your project’s outcome. As such, they need to be actively informed of your project. Also because of their interest, it is important to show these stakeholders consideration as you move forward.

To contrast, High Power/High Interest stakeholders may not be particularly interested in your project but it is important to keep them actively informed, as they do have power over your project’s success. Similarly, it is important to keep this group of stakeholders satisfied, to the best of your ability, so that they do not use their power to negatively impact your project. Lastly, High Power/High Interest stakeholders are the most important to your project as they have the biggest impact on its success. These are stakeholders that you must engage regularly and work to maintain a positive relationship. They will need to have the opportunity to provide direct input into the project and may be involved in key decision-making.

Take the time to categorize your stakeholders using a Power/Interest Grid. By doing so, you will be able to determine the appropriate level of engagement for each stakeholder. This will allow you to focus your energy and resources more on key stakeholders, while still meeting the needs of the larger group.

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